The Armor of God

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As Christians, we need a daily reminder that we are in a war, a spiritual war as Paul writes in Ephesians 6:10-12. But here is the great truth that Watchman Nee writes, “We don’t fight for victory, we fight from victory”.

We stand in victory that Jesus completed when he died and rose again.

I have found that the armor of God which we find in Ephesians 6:13-18, to be extremely important on mission trips, and for everyday life.

There is a reason verse 13 says, “take up the whole armor of God”, every piece is vital for our Christian walk. Satan and his demons are looking for a weak point in our defenses where they can attack us.

1 The first is the Belt of Truth.

We know that Satan is a liar and John says that he is the father of lies (John 8:44). The belt is the piece that holds all the suit of armor together, truth is foundational to standing firm.

The Belt also holds the sword, without the truth, the sword of the spirit will be ineffective in the life of the follower of Jesus.

2 The Breastplate of righteousness.

The breastplate was a metallic covering that covered the front and the back of the soldier, from the neck to the waist.

This breastplate is not of our righteousness, it is the righteousness of Christ. This is the only righteousness that we have (2 Corinthians 5:21). What a blessing to be clothed in the righteousness of Christ.

3 The shoes of the Gospel.

The Gospel of peace is that Jesus, who was fully God and fully man, lived a perfect sinless life, died in our place on a roman cross, taking the punishment that we deserved. He rose from the dead, appeared to hundreds, before ascending into heaven where he is now interceding for us. The Gospel is like spikes in our shoes, allow us to stand firm in the face of any enemy attack.

But more than standing firm, we have the blessing and the calling to share the Gospel with the world around us, as the prophet Isaiah writes:

How beautiful upon the mountains
    are the feet of him who brings good news,
who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness,
    who publishes salvation,
    who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.”

Isaiah 52:7

4 The Shield of Faith.

Satan is firing darts at us all the time. These darts are aimed at our hearts and our minds. Lies, evil thoughts, hateful thoughts about others, and temptation, these are all darts with flaming points that Satan wants to penetrate the Christians armor. We must constantly hold up the shield of faith.

One of the features of the shields in the Roman times was that they could lock together and form a near impenetrable barrier. This is why we are safer together in the body of Christ. Never attempt to go into a battle alone, we need the support of other believers in the Body of Christ.

5 The Helmet of Salvation

Satan wants to attack the mind;  planting seeds of doubt, envy, lust, greed and the like.

It is how he caused Adam and Eve to sin, by sowing a seed of doubt about the goodness of God.

What we think about, dwell on, meditate in is really important. Our thoughts need to be submitted to God (2 Corinthians 10:5-6).

Paul writes in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

The Helmet of salvation is put on with diligent reading and studying the Word of God. Don’t neglect the study of the word of God. In order to recognize the lies of the enemy, we need to know the truth.

6 The Sword of the Spirit.

Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

The Word of God brings conviction of sin, piercing to the heart.  Have you noticed how aggressive some unbelievers become when Scripture is quoted? The reason is that the Bible is inspired and empowered by the very spirit of God.

When Jesus was tempted in the wilderness, he used the sword of the Spirit, he used the word of God to defeat Satan. The better you know the word of God, the better you will be able to discern the lies of the enemy.

The Armor of God is also picture of Jesus:

  • He is the truth.
  • He is our righteousness.
  • He is our peace.
  • He is our salvation.
  • He is the word of God.

Daily we should be in the habit of putting on the armor of God. Satan never stops his attacks; we must never be defenseless.

We need to have a paradigm shift in our approach to the attacks of the enemy of our souls. Usually, we ask God to help us to defeat Satan in a certain area of our lives, but may I suggest a different way of praying. We need to pray thanking God for the victory that Jesus has already won and ask Him for the strength to stand firm. This requires faith. That is why Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

If we are a church that is about missions, fulfilling the Great Commission, spiritual warfare should be normal. And putting on the armor of God should be a way of life.

Why Missions?

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Why does the church do missions?

The term missions conveys the idea of a military campaign and the truth is that when we go out to share the Gospel, we are going out into enemy territory, with the goal and purpose of winning souls for Christ. It is spiritual warfare. The enemy is real, and the warfare is real, particularly in regions where there is prevalent witchcraft and demonic worship.

Some people argue that the church focuses too much on mission and not enough on the discipleship and nurturing of our own church family. We have this tension between mission and discipleship.  

The truth is that the church is called to do both. One without the other is disobedience to the instructions of Jesus. Jesus instructed Peter in John 21 to, “feed my sheep”, to instruct and feed the followers of Jesus with the Word of God. The apostle Paul also instructed Timothy to preach the word patiently to those in the church (2 Timothy 4:2).

The church needs discipleship, and the church is a place where believers can come and be fed the word of God. But the church also needs to be obedient to the command of Jesus to go and preach the Gospel.

We all know the Great Commission found in Matthew 28, but we can sometimes forget that the Great Commission is found in each of the four Gospels, and also in Acts 1:8.

Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:14–18, Luke 24:44–49, John 20:19-23, and Acts 1:4–8.

The Gospel of Luke has a different perspective on the Great Commission and each of the Gospels give us a different view of the Gospel account. It’s like turning a diamond around in the light and seeing the beauty of the Gospel from different angles.

Luke recalls that after his resurrection, Jesus explained the Scriptures to the disciples (Luke 24:44-45). Jesus reminded them of all the prophecy’s that had been fulfilled in his life up to that point and how the Old Testament was a prophetic revelation of Jesus. It was probably a very gentle “I told you so” moment.

And then in verse 47 we read, “and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”

Luke, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, highlights that salvation comes through repentance and turning from our old way of life. Sadly, the message of repentance is not preached enough today.

Luke continues in verse 49, “And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”

Luke recalls that Jesus told his disciples to wait, not to go anywhere until they had been filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit coming on the gathering in the upper room in Acts 2, is the fire of God that was and is the catalytic power of the church.

Luke records that Jesus told them about a promise that was made long ago, the promise of the Father to send the Spirit. Jesus was referring to Isaiah 32:15 and Joel 2 for a couple of examples.  

This is crucial for the mission of the church; we must never think that we can do anything for God in our own strength.

The disciples before Pentecost were a group hiding behind locked doors, fearing for their lives and not a very effective group at all. But then, the Holy Spirit comes on them and they run out into the streets proclaiming Jesus as the risen Son of God, the Messiah. Their boldness was staggering, and the effectiveness of their witness changed the world. They were used by God the Holy Spirit.

They had courage as they went with the Power of the Holy Spirit.

Boldness like this is not restricted to the early church or to the disciples who walked with Jesus. This boldness accompanies and characterizes any believer who, against opposition, boldly proclaims the truth of God’s word.

None of the people who are heading out on mission trips from Grace Point this summer are under any illusion that they have some unique ability that qualifies them to go and preach the Gospel with power. Rather, they are humbly saying yes to the Lord and then inviting the Holy Spirit to empower, lead, and use them for the Glory of God.

So Why missions?

Because it builds the church. Not only are new converts added to the church, but it also builds the faith of the church as we hear stories of God moving in power.

Missions is a double-edged sword.  It grows the people going by stretching them in their faith and accomplishes much more in discipleship than any classroom environment could ever do. And then there is the blessing of seeing people saved and entering into the kingdom, helping other churches to grow in health and welcome new converts.

Missions is not only the instruction that Jesus gave the church, but it is the fuel and the impetus that ensures the church stays healthy.

Why Worship?

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We have this misconception that worship is the time of our church gathering when we sing songs.

But worship is not just singing, we worship what we give value to.

We worship by the way we use our money, the way we work, the way we share the Gospel with others and even in the way we spend our free time. When we understand worship, we understand that we have the opportunity to worship God with every aspect of our lives.

Everyone worships, but not everyone worships the one true God.

In John 4, we read an account of a woman who had misplaced worship. Jesus was resting at a well in a town called Sychar and a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus spoke first and asks the woman to give him some water.

The woman who came to the well had been searching for love, fulfillment, and purpose all her life and the only person who could fulfill all her desires was sitting right in front of her. She brings up the question of worship in verse 20 when she says to Jesus, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” One of the big issues of distinction between the Jews and the Samaritans was the question of the location of their worship. She soon discovers that Jesus was wanting to speak about worship all along, this is why he was waiting at the well for her. Jesus directs the conversation to a time when worship will no longer be about a physical location (see John 4:23-24).

Jesus is explaining that only those who receive the Holy Spirit can worship God the Father. It is only in the Spirit, by the Spirit and through the Spirit that we can truly worship God in a way that pleases Him. The issue is not that we need to learn how to worship or where to worship, rather we need to learn who to worship and only by the Holy Spirit are we able to worship God the Father.

By the definition of worship, we are all really good worshippers. In our sinful human nature, we are really good idolaters, we give value to things in our lives above God. We all are tempted with idols such as: security, peace, meaning in life, self-esteem, significance, or any good thing that we elevate to a level of importance above God in our lives.

Our hearts are a perpetual idol factory.” John Calvin

The problem is misplaced worship, and the consequences are always tragic (see Jeremiah 2:13).

Jesus offered the Samaritan woman living water, she had been trying to satisfy her longings with marriage after failed marriage. At the core of all failed longings is misdirected worship. Worship of God is what we were made for. We will only find true fulfilment in life as we worship the one true God. That is a meaningful life, that is a life of worship. True worship is recognizing the sovereignty of God in all the aspects of my life.

“Worship is my active, all-of-life response to the worth of who He is and what He does.” Matt Heard

One of the most common misconceptions of worship is that it is a relatively passive event. But in the Bible, the Hebrew and the Greek words for worship involve physical activity involving all of life. Every single activity of my life becomes a way of acknowledging the creator God and His worth in my life, that is worship.

But we live in a world that worships false gods, we are living in an age that is described by David in Psalm 63:1. Are you in a dry and weary land? Or are you experiencing the living water that Jesus invited the Samaritan woman to in John 4:14?

This doesn’t mean that you will never experience pain or hardship (see John 16:33), but when you worship God with all your life, you will know peace, joy and complete fulfilment in the midst of your circumstances. You will be able to worship along with the prophet Habakkuk (See Habakkuk 3:17-18).

In the month of June, we are particularly reminded that the world around us does not worship the God we serve. As we see a month dedicated to the worship of self and immorality.

The world has a sin problem, but the real issue is that the world has a worship problem.  Sin is the result of misplaced worship. Thinking that something other than God will bring joy and peace. In Romans 1:28 we read that God will give people over to the objects of their worship.

We are not dealing with people who are confused or struggling with their identity, we are seeing the result of Satan’s demonic power being unleashed on the earth.

Satan has gone after the very root of God’s relationship with the earth. The pride month uses the rainbow, the rainbow is one of God’s original covenants, not just with the Jews or people but with all living creatures (See Genesis 9:12).

The pinnacle of God’s creation was man and woman created in His image, that was His original design, Satan is attacking that.

In Genesis 1:28 God’s original instruction to man and women was to be fruitful and multiply, something that is impossible with same sex relationships.

And then there is the original sin, Ezekiel 28:17 says that Satan’s original downfall was his pride over his beauty. He grew in pride and defied the one who created him.

Pride is at the very root of Satan’s power. Pride is ultimately worshipping ourselves, saying that we know better than God the Father, the one who created us.

So how do we respond?

Ephesians 6 doesn’t say, go and beat up sinners, it says in Ephesians 6:13 that we should simply stand firm. Stand firm, speak the truth in love and allow the Holy Spirit to do what only he can do.

If you have friends and loved ones caught in this deceptive lifestyle, love them enough to speak the truth to them. The Bible is very clear, they are on a pathway of destruction that leads to hell, because they are worshipping a false religion that may bring fleeting and deceptive pleasure for a moment. We must speak the truth, millions of souls are at stake.

Worship of the one true God is essential in the church.